One of my co-workers, David Hastoglis -- a BoldTech vice-president, actually -- recently visited the Hangzhou office. On his return to Denver, I asked him to carry back some of the souvenirs and gifts we've purchased so we won't have so much to carry back ourselves. We gave him a bag full of gifts including several campy, decades-old Chairman Mao alarm clocks, where Mao's arm actually waves back and forth as the chairman beams his warm smile. It seems my innocent request led to an interesting incident at the Shanghai airport. Here's a transcript of my IM conversation with the aforementioned VP...
davidhastoglis: I got stopped leaving Shanghai to have my packages inspected.
Brad Swanson: doh!
davidhastoglis: I don't know why, but they didn't like the looks of large metal objects with alarm clocks next to them.
Brad Swanson: ooooh - didn't think about that. sorry for the hassle
davidhastoglis: It was funny, because when they took me to the inspection room and took everything out they just couldn't understand why I would have alarm clocks that didn't work.
davidhastoglis: I told them I had the clocks because they were funny.
Brad Swanson: did they speak decent english?
davidhastoglis: They said "waht's funny about them" and I replied "They are chairmain Mao clocks".
davidhastoglis: The guy said "Waht is funny about that".
Brad Swanson: LOL!
davidhastoglis: I realized the error in my joke and said "nothing. it is funmy because they are old and don't work".
davidhastoglis: They let me go.
davidhastoglis: It wasn't a hassle but a funny story I thought.
Brad Swanson: just tell them we love Mao so much in America that we even want broken clocks with his image
davidhastoglis: Yep, you are sharper on the ball than me.
Brad Swanson: i'll practice my speech before i pass thru security on the way home
Brad Swanson: so i can say it with a straight face